Monday, March 31, 2014

Royal Docket for the Week of March 31st

Monday, March 31st

A pair of Windsor Greys pulling the Queen's carriage during Trooping the Colour in 2007.

     The Queen will be accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge to attend the unveiling of a life-sized statue of the Windsor Greys on the roundabout, at the Albert & Kings road junction adjoining the Long Walk at Windsor Castle. The Duke of Cambridge is Patron of the Windsor Greys Jubilee Appeal, which has raised the 200,000 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation with a sculpture by Robert Rattry of two of the lead carriage horses - known as Windsor Greys - used in state occasions.

     Sophie, Countess of Wessex is going to be in Cornwall to visit Lynher Dairies Cheese Company in Truro, as well as the Royal Cornwall Showground at Wadebridge.

    Princess Anne, Princess Royal will be in East Sussex to attend a Charity Raceday at Plumpton Racecourse in her role as President of Racing Welfare, an organization dedicated to professional guidance and training to people who work in the thoroughbred industry. She will also be in London as Appeal Patron of the Woolf Institute to attend a Fundraising Dinner at Spencer House. The Institute studies the relations and interactions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

     Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester will be at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey to attend 'The Arcadian Thames - a Celebration' charity event in reference to the stretch of the River Thames from Hampton Court to Kew Palace. 

Tuesday, April 1st 

HRH The Earl of Wessex

     Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex will be the Savoy Hotel in London to attend a breakfast meeting as Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

     Later, as Master of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, will be in London to attend the organization's annual Spring Court meeting and lunch at Butchers' Hall. The company is a City of London Livery Company, and although it no longer engages in the regulation of produce, it is now a charitable institution promoting good gardening and horticulture. 

     The Princess Royal will be in London all day for her engagements. As Commandant in Chief (Youth) of St. John Ambulance, she will visit the Youth Programs of the Hackney Unit in Clapton. The St. John Ambulance Association is a volunteer and charitable organization dedicated to teaching and practicing First Aid, as well as the provision of ambulance services. 

     She will also be attending a conference of Catch 22, a social business - of which she is Patron - that helps people to turn their lives around. At Soho Square, she will attend a Skills Symposium as President of City and Guilds, vocational educational organization that offers 500 certifications in a variety of fields, and operates under a Royal Charter issued by Queen Victoria in 1900. Princess Anne took over as President from her father Prince Philip in 2011, who had held the position for nearly 60 years.

     As President RedR UK, the Princess will attend a dinner at St. James's Palace. RedR is an organization that focuses on training people for aid work, as well as lending support for organizations that provide disaster relief services.

HRH The Duke of Kent

     Prince Edward, Duke of Kent will be in Cornwall to carry out engagements for the day. At Newquay, he will visit the Masonic Hall as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England; in St. Agnes, the Duke will visit the St. Agnes Museum, as well as the St. Agnes Lifeboat Station as President of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution; at Penzance, he will stop by Trengwainton House.

Wednesday, April 2nd

     The Earl of Wessex will be going to Somerset to attend the Court Meeting and Dinner at the University of Bath, of which he is Chancellor.

     In Hertfordshire, the Princess Royal - as Patron of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Foundation - will visit the South West Herts Youth and Community Narrowboat Project at the RYA Sailability Center in Hunton Bridge. The Foundation helps to make boating and sailing more accessible to people regardless of circumstances such as financial hardship and disability. She will also view the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in Hatfield.

     In Buckinghamshire, the Princess will visit HMP Grendon and Springhill as Patron of the Butler Trust to observe and meet inmates who are training to go into the hospitality industry.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester

     Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester will be going to Kent for the day. At Maidstone, he will open the Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery, visit the Mote Park Fellowship Volunteers at Mote House, and visit Parents is the Word at Heather House.

     In Cornwall, the Duke of Kent will be attending a seminar as Patron of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove in Rosedgeon.

Thursday, April 3rd

HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

     The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Italy for day-long trip, during which they will have an audience with Pope Francis and a private lunch with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

     Back in the UK, the Princess Royal will attend a 50th anniversary celebration of the Injured Jockeys Fund, of which she is Patron, at the Aintree Racecourse. The Fund provides assistance to jockeys who have been forced to give up riding due to injuries.

     As President of World Horse Welfare, the Princess will also visit Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Center in Blackpool, Lancashire.

Friday, April 4th

HRH The Princess Royal

     The Princess Royal will be carrying engagements in Merseyside. In Liverpool, she will attend a Personalized Technology Conference at the Liverpool Football Club as the Royal Patron of Hft, a national charity for people with learning disabilities. At Wallasey, the Princess will open Accommodation and Communal Hub at Mariners' Park as Master of the Corporation of Trinity House. She will also be at the Southport Theater and Convention Center to attend a seminar to mark the 21st Anniversary of the Sefton Carers Center in her role as President of the Carers Trust.

     Birgette, Duchess of Gloucester will be in Italy to attend the first day of the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Naples as Honorary President of the Lawn Tennis Association.

Saturday, April 5th

     The Princess Royal will attend the 175th Grand National Race at Aintree Racecouse in Liverpool.

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester

     The Duchess of Gloucester will be in Italy to attend the second day of the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Naples as Honorary President of the Lawn Tennis Association.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why William and Kate Should Urge Young People to Vote

     Earlier today, I was browsing through the website of Centrepoint, the homeless youth charity of which Prince William is Patron, and came upon one of the campaign's of the Centrepoint Parliament: the drive to get more young people registered to vote.

     According to Centrepoint, more than half of 18-24 year olds were not even registered to vote in the 2010 UK General Election, and that this consistent pattern leads to the concerns of such people to be ignored by politicians from all parties, who instead fashion polices in favor of those who do vote: older people. In this age of austerity, spending on programs benefiting older voters have either been maintained or boosted, sometimes to the detriment of programs geared toward younger people.

     Centrepoint concludes that more young people need to vote if their interests are to be represented in the United Kingdom's governing institutions.

     With this in mind, I believe that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge should join with Centrepoint in urging Britain's eligible youth to register to vote, and here's why:

1. They can continue a tradition of encouraging civic participation

     In the 19th Century, Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert desired to expand the voting franchise to more people, which was shared with the Tory Prime Minister of the 1840's, Sir Robert Peel. He was a man of the reformist mold, and greatly influenced the direction of the constitutional monarchy as it adapted to the changing nature of politics in Britain with the aspirations of the rising middle classes and the industrial working classes.

     With the establishment of the Order of the British Empire and the expansion of the honors system in the 20th Century, the monarchy also rewarded, and provided encouragement for, individuals who were engaged in their local communities to make a difference.

     These days, Prince Charles has been stressing the value of participation in one's community and being active in pursuits that can help people and advance causes.

     By urging young people to register to vote, as well as to get out and vote, the Duke and Duchess can continue this tradition by encouraging them to do their civic duty, and he can also provide further evidence that constitutional monarchy and democratic participation can go hand-in-hand in the 21st Century.

2. They can reach out to younger generations

     The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have resonated with younger people since their marriage in 2011, and have helped to rejuvenate interest in the monarchy from within the age group of 18-24, where support for a republic has fallen to a lowly 18%.

The Palace of Westminster - the meeting place of the UK Parliament in London.

     They can use their appeal to great advantage by emphasizing the need for their generation to step up and to use their voting rights to make their concerns and aspirations known to the politicians in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, and elsewhere throughout the United Kingdom.

3. They can act as nonpartisans

     Republicans may say that by encouraging people to vote, William and Kate will be "wading" into politics and breaking the constitutional convention of the Royal Family not voting in elections.

     However, merely getting young people to vote is not by itself an act of political partisanship. The couple would speak out to all young Britons to exercise the franchise, but leave the choice of political candidate or party to the individual voters, whilst also imploring them to educate themselves on the issues and the candidates. This would be helpful since some youths are not (yet) ideologically-minded and do not want to feel pressured into declaring a political affiliation - which is especially the case with apathetic people.

Voting underway during the AV referendum in 2011.

     In the United States, there are similar issues of apathy amongst younger people, who historically have been the least represented at the polls, especially in non-presidential elections. This lack of representation at the polls translates into a lack of concern for the issues facing young people from the politicians, who feel the need to only respond to the people to sent them to the legislative body - be it Congress, Parliament, local councils, etc. - who tend to be older voters. Such a situation results in elected assemblies that are not truly representative, and which have skewed priorities without input from the up-and-coming generations, who will have to live with the decisions the politicians make today. 

     Worse, as the government continuously appears to be tone-deaf to their priorities, more young people become apathetic and disillusioned towards the political system, causing more of them to avoid the polls and feeding into a everlasting cycle of more apathy and less participation.

     As the future King and Queen, William and Kate are in a position to help end this cycle by stressing the importance of exercising the hard-fought right to vote. Taking part in the democratic process via voting will not guarantee anything, but it will ensure that decisions in the legislative bodies will have greater input from young people since the politicians will realize that they are no longer a constituency to be ignored. In other words, the decisions will likely be more reflective and representative of the nation as a whole, rather than a segment of it. Making voices known speaks volumes, and this kind of message would be in a complete contrast to people like Russell Brand.

     William in particular could say that his own future reign will not be possible without the full and democratic participation of all people - young and old - who will determine the future of the kingdom, further emphasizing the vital connection between Crown and People.

Photo Credit: UK_repsome via Flickr cc, Simon Jones via Flickr cc, DaniKauf via Wikimedia Commons cc, Bryn Salisbury via Flickr cc

Friday, March 28, 2014

Royal Profile: King John of England

John, King of England

     John of England was born on December 24, 1166. He was the youngest son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and as such was not expected to inherit his father's possessions and territories. But rebellions by John's older brothers resulted in him becoming King Henry's favorite son, and he was appointed Lord of Ireland in 1177 and given other lands in England and France. Upon the death's of three of his brothers and his father, John became heir to the throne during the reign of his last surviving brother, Richard I (the Lionheart), and when Richard died in 1199, John succeeded to the Crown. 

     He became embroiled in conflicts with the French king, Philip II, which resulted in John losing much of his family's Continental empire, including Normandy, Anjou, and Brittany in northern France by 1204. For the first time since the Norman Conquest, the King of England was that and not much else. John would spend the next ten years attempting to retake these lands, but to no avail. 

     Worse, he got into a confrontation with Pope Innocent III over the appointment of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, which resulted in England being laid under an interdict in 1208, which prevented priests from saying Mass, marrying couples, and burying corpses. In response, John confiscated Church lands from officials who followed the orders of the interdict.

     For this, and John's continued intransigence on the appointment of Stephen Langton, Pope Innocent had John excommunicated in 1209, and may have invited Philip II of France to invade England and depose John. Eventually in 1213, John agreed to accept Langton as Archbishop, compensate the Church for lost revenues from the confiscated land, and to surrender ultimate authority for England and Ireland to the Pope while paying an annual cash tribute of 1,000 marks (£ 666) to lease it back. 

     Meanwhile, his fruitless wars in France had sent taxes spiraling and resulted in the loss of French lands belonging to English barons. John's submission to the pope also soured the attitudes of the power brokers who could make or break him, and in 1215, they forced him to sign Magna Carta (the Great Charter) with the aim of restraining the King's power. The document not only contained clauses regarding the liberties and political rights of free people, but it also included sharp teeth which allowed the barons to overrule John and to use force if he showed any sign of backsliding from Magna Carta. 

     John then had his new superior overlord, Pope Innocent, to have the charter declared null and void. The barons were subsequently outraged at the King's faithlessness and a civil war broke out in which they invited Louis, the son of the French king, to take the English throne for himself. But on October 18, 1216, King John died, and the rebellion ended with the accession of his nine-year-old son, Henry III. 

     King John has been much-maligned by past and contemporary historians for his conduct and actions against the Church, in France, and with the barons. To be fair, he was a good administrator in the mechanics of government and his reign did see through the continued development of English common law. Also, his moment of humiliation - the signing of Magna Carta - is considered an important step in the constitutional evolution of the United Kingdom, with its emphasis on defining the relationship between monarch and people by establishing constraints upon the monarch's powers and the acknowledging of the people's rights and liberties. 

     Nevertheless, this action was viewed as a climb down on the part of the king, and his name has been treated with suspicion ever since, which is probably the reason why there has not been a reigning English or British king named John.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review of Prince Harry's South Pole Hero's

     Prince Harry's South Pole Hero's made its American broadcast on Wednesday at 8:00PM on NBC - four days following the conclusion of the original two-part broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV.

     Unfortunately, this version was heavily edited to fit a one hour time slot, so there was likely some detail that was missing from the showing, but it was nevertheless a solid program to watch as it chronicled last year's 13-day expedition to the South Pole, of which Britain's (not just England's, Matt Lauer) Prince Harry took part.

     As some of you may know, the expedition involved three teams organized by Walking with the Wounded, Soldier On, and Soldiers for Summits: a British team, an American team, and a joint team from Commonwealth of Nations members Canada and Australia. Each team consisted of wounded veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and headed by an expedition leader.

Prince Harry demonstrating pulling a sled before his first Antarctic trek.

     Prince Harry lead the British team, being a two-time veteran of the Afghan war himself as a member of the British Army and a Patron of Walking with the Wounded. This was actually his second expedition to Antarctica, with the first one being in 2011.

     The purpose of the Virgin Money South Pole Challenge was to raise funds for the respective charities - WWTW in the UK, Soldier On in Canada and Australia, and Soldiers for Summits in the USA. It also raised awareness of the trials and tribulations faced by wounded soldiers, as well their determination to not allow their battle scars to hold them back from living as normal a life as possible. The funds raised were to benefit people like them who are in need of assistance on several fronts as they reintegrate themselves into civilian life.

     Wednesday night's program did a good job at highlighting the stories of American veterans who suffer from skin burns, blindness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other injuries. Indeed, it was inspiring to learn about these wounded hero's, and how they overcame the adversity of their injuries to join this effort in Antarctica. 

     The program also showed the team members going to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen in what probably was a once in a lifetime opportunity. As the Head of the Armed Forces of Britain, Canada, and Australia - as well as the mother and grandmother of servicemen - the Queen knows all too well about war and its consequences on others, and she seemed to take a genuine interest in the each of the team members.

     As the program went on, we witnessed how the teams spent nearly two grueling weeks walking and pulling sleds through some of most hostile environments on Earth, characterized by a terrain of hard-packed snow and ice, temperatures dropping as low as -113ºF (-45ºC), and blustery wind conditions at times.

     We see how the near-constant and extreme physical exertions take their toll on the veterans, and the harsh conditions provided more of a mountain to climb. Each of them had unique circumstances, such as a woman suffering from migraines due to her head injuries from a bomb blast, another veteran whose only guidance was hearing since he was blind, and there were some people were trekking with prosthetic body parts.

     At times, team members had to be pulled out temporarily to receive advanced medical attention at the base camp, including Prince Harry himself, who suffered a headache that increasingly got worse by the day as the conditions bore down on him.

     Fortunately, all of these expedition members returned in relatively short order - the Prince was back within 36 hours - and what we witnessed was the spirit of determination from people who have been through more in 20-30 years than what most of us will go through in a lifetime of 70-80 years. One veteran whose knees were heavily reconstructed said that the South Pole journey was just another step in his recovery to being the man he once was. Indeed, as the expedition continued, many of the veterans gained confidence in themselves as they became used to the conditions and kept a positive head.

     The turning point of the expedition came at the end of stage one - about one-third of the way through - at which it was decided to abandon the race and combine the teams to make the rest of the journey together. Some members were disappointed at this, but others - Prince Harry among them - took the philosophical view that getting to the Pole and making the effort together was bigger and more important than the competitive aspect, which indeed it was.

     Finally, the 200 mile trek ended came as the combined teams triumphantly reached the South Pole on December 13, 2013. The long journey was indeed a story of perseverance and of overcoming obstacles, and it was clear that the veterans came out the expedition for the better with renewed confidence about themselves and their lives going forward.

Prince Harry meeting a wounded American veteran last year at the
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

     Prince Harry's participation was a good way of getting attention drawn toward the veterans who need help. He made remarks about serving with these people on the battlefield and of now recovering with them, so for him, this was a part of his military service and a commitment to his fellow comrades in arms.

     The only real disappointment about the program was that it did not extensively profile the non-American team members, save for Prince Harry. This is understandable since this was aired in America, and only had a one-hour time slot (in contrast to two hours for the British broadcast). However, all veterans are important, and it would have been good for Americans to know of the sacrifices made by soldiers from other nations that have fought alongside us, and the trials and tribulations they face.

     Aside from that, it was a nice program and any person who watched it ought to have had a greater appreciation for the work of the our allied armed forces.

Photo Credit: Walking With The Wound via Flickr cc, Military Health via Flickr cc

Prince Charles and the London Housing Crisis

The Prince of Wales speaking at Buckingham Palace late last year

     As heir to the throne for over sixty years, Prince Charles has sought to be more than a “presence” as suggested by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

     The result is that he as used his position and influence to speak out on issues that are important to him, and has made interventions into public matters like housing and sustainability.

     Yesterday was no different as the Prince of Wales made an impassioned call for more homes to be built in London to help solve the city’s housing crisis. His remarks were made in a speech made upon the release of Housing London: A Mid-Rise Solution, a publication furnished by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.

     The Prince warned that rocketing house prices and rents threatened to drive a generation of young people away of the United Kingdom’s capital city at the same time that it has other attributes going for it, such as employment opportunities not found elsewhere. Recently-released official figures showed that the average price for a house in London is £458,000, an increase of 13% in just one year, making it virtually impossible for a young individual to make a substantial down payment (or deposit) on a home in the hope of making affordable mortgage payments over their lifetime.

     On the rental front, the story is not much better. Many of the new rental units that are being built are found in high-rise towers which only the wealthiest individuals can obtain, and much of them are used for investment and not living purposes by foreign nationals. This means that some homes and apartments are unoccupied for long periods of time, whilst the housing market continues a relentless upward trend as people with means continue to buy.

     All of this makes for an unsustainable situation in which most young people are priced out the market, and the ones that can get in often have to spend a majority of their income on rent, leaving few resources to do other activities.

     Prince Charles and his foundation have suggested that the developers should not just build more affordable housing, but that they also ought to move away from building high-rises to building “mid-rises” – buildings about six to eight stories tall and in the character of Georgian manor blocks of the 18th and 19th centuries.

     The report also calls for developments to be of a mixed variety – with private, shared, and public housing built in the same place and around cultural institutions and squares to achieve greater cohesion and a sense of community and belonging amongst the inhabitants. Such communities should also be “walkable” and have public transportation available to achieve what the Prince of Wales has called the “built environment.”

     Inevitably, there will be some republicans who will criticize the Prince for wading into political issue about which he knows nothing.

     However, as with the case of his mother making remarks about the plight of the poor, Charles was simply stating the obvious with regard to the need for affordable housing in London. One cannot read a newspaper in the UK without some mention of the housing shortage, which is indeed a crisis as London and the rest of country continue to grow. The problem is exasperated by wealthy individuals – many of them foreigners – who buy property as investment vehicles, which sends home prices up even further and deprives Londoners of critical housing.

     The city cannot become the exclusive playground and stopover point for the wealthiest individuals in the world. As the capital of the United Kingdom, it ought to be a place where people from throughout the country can live, regardless of their resources – financial or otherwise.

     Prince Charles’s ideas for attempting to rectify this problem are helpful, in my opinion. They make a case for building more housing on a more human scale with the aim of bringing people and communities together. This chimes in with the views of many Londoners who like the new tall towers, but would not want to live in them.

     And with all of the glass towers being thrown up across London, having new buildings in more traditional architectural styles would inject some flavor into the city bringing back some of the scenery for which it has been known. Indeed, the report calls for “more London” in terms of style.

     If these ideas can provide the impetus for public action to achieve affordable and sustainable housing, as well as creating vital communities, then the Prince’s intervention will be a good thing. If anything, it is the fact that he is divorced from the day to day governance of the country – and therefore above the political fray – that gives him the credibility to speak out on such issues, since he is not serving “special interests” or partisan political constituencies. It is better that he use his position to highlight issues and provide solutions on which government can – if it wishes – act.

     One thing for sure, as heir to the throne, he has not been a mere “presence.”

Royal Profile: Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland

     King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland was born on November 19, 1600 at Dunfermline Palace, Dunfermline, Scotland.

     He was the second son of James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark. His father ascended to the thrones of England and Ireland as James I following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, becoming the first Stuart king in England and Ireland, as well as the first person to reign over all of Britain. A sickly child, Charles was left behind in Scotland when the rest of his family moved down to London, and was not expected to become king, for that was a destiny reserved for his older brother, Henry Frederick Stuart.

     However, Henry’s death as a result of typhoid fever in 1612 placed Charles in direct line to succeed his father, and he was made Prince of Wales in 1616. Charles eventually overcame his physical shortcomings, and became an avid sportsman, though he was not much taller than 5 feet, 4 inches (which incidentally is the same height of present Queen). He was also religiously devoted, artistically sophisticated, and serious in his academics.

     On March 27, 1625, Charles Stuart succeeded his father as king at the age of 24. Like James VI & I, Charles had a well-defined view of kings as being appointed directly by God, and therefore accountable only to God. James however, recognized how far he could go in imposing his will on Parliament and was a pragmatist in his political and religious dealings. Charles had not the political experience of his father, and he took the belief in divine right and in near-absolute authority much farther than his father had been willing to do.

     In England, the Parliamentarians challenged the king’s foreign policy in having the country involved in the religious struggles of continental Europe, which was being directed by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. When the King’s first two English Parliament’s attempted to remove Buckingham, he dissolved them and tried to rule alone, but soon had to call a new Parliament into session so he could obtain funds for his government.

Charles believed in his absolute right to rule in affairs of state and especially church.

     The issue of Buckingham was defused when he was assassinated in 1628, but then the more hotly-Protestant Parliamentarians attempted to force changes to religious policies which they viewed as too Catholic. Charles saw this as a direct challenge to his God-given authority as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and dissolved his third Parliament. 

     He ruled alone through the 1630’s and relied on other means to raise funds without Parliament, including ship money (a tax placed on people living within 15 miles of the sea). This eleven year period did witness growth in trade and commerce, an expansion of the Royal Navy, peace with Catholic France and Spain, and Charles’s commissioning of great works of art by Anthony Van Dyck and Peter Rubens. But this relatively harmonious period ended with the issue that had started it: the religious policies of the King.

     Charles I was a High Anglican, meaning that he revered the elaborate rituals and symbolism that accompanied the worship service. These were rituals that were more or less carried over from the Catholic liturgy, but with a slight bent with respect toward the Protestant Reformation that had taken place in the previous century throughout Britain. But for some more radical Protestants (i.e., Puritans, Presbyterians, Separatists, etc.), these ceremonies were either too Catholic for their liking or offended them because of it being the state religion. Charles’s marriage to the French Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria, along with his acquiescence to allow her to worship openly and freely only caused more consternation.

     In Scotland, where the effects of the Reformation were more radical, Charles’s attempts to create uniformity of worship throughout Britain proved to be last straw. Here, he was not the supreme governor of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (or Kirk). In fact, the Kirk was governed by assemblies of clergy, called presbyteries, and the King of Scots was hardly an exalted figure there, unlike in England. (James VI was referred to as “God’s silly vassal” by a Scottish clergyman named Andrew Melville). So when in 1637, Charles, in conjunction with the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud attempted to impose Anglican liturgy on the Kirk, it resulted in a religious revolt against the King. It led to the creation of the Covenanters who opposed royal interference in religion, and also started the Bishops’ Wars.

Statue of Charles I on his horse at Trafalgar Square, London.

     The King needed money to put down the rebellion in Scotland, so in 1640 he called his first English Parliament in eleven years, but the opposition led by John Pym in the House of Commons only matters worse. Pym used the parliamentary session to attack the king for his religious and financial policies of the previous decade, and succeeded in having some of Charles’s principal ministers, such as Archbishop Laud removed from office. Charles eventually gave into some concessions in England, such as giving up ship money, and decided to diffuse his Scottish issues by traveling up to Edinburgh to recognize the establishment of Presbyterianism.

     Meanwhile, John Pym’s support became shaky as some MP’s felt that his attacks on the King were going too far. Feeling (mistakenly) emboldened, in January 1642, Charles strode into the Commons to have Pym and four other members arrested on charges of treason (for he believed that some of them colluded with the Scots during the Bishops’ Wars). The five members escaped, but by entering the Commons, Charles broke constitutional precedence and confirmed the worldview of his opponents by appearing to be violent tyrant.

     This event resulted in the English Civil Wars and other conflicts, which along with the Bishops’ Wars, have become collectively known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (or the British Civil Wars), and they came to define the latter part of Charles’s reign.

     Twice, Charles and the Royalists were defeated by the Parliamentarian New Model Army, who merely wanted the King to come to the bargaining table with regard to issues of religion and control of the military. Charles, hard-lined as ever in his belief in the divine right of kings, refused the multiple offers made by the army for a new political and religious settlement, which among other things called for an end to enforced state religion.

     Instead, in 1647, he allied himself with the Scottish Covenanters, and it was agreed that a Scots army would invade England, crush the Parliamentarians, and restore Charles to his throne on the condition that he allow Presbyterianism to be established in England as in Scotland.

     King Charles and his Scottish army were defeated at the Battle of Preston in August 1648, and following it, the more radical Parliamentarians (a.k.a. Independents) led by Oliver Cromwell were no longer interested in making deals. They purged the House of Commons of the Presbyterians who wanted to make a deal with the King, leaving the “Rump Parliament” of 50 Independents which declared itself the supreme power of the land, with the power to make laws without the consent of the King or the House of Lords.

     As for Charles, he was put on trial for treason because of his use of arbitrary power for personal gain rather than for the national interest. At the trial in Westminster Hall, Charles refused to state his plea, believing that the tribunal was illegal because no court had jurisdiction over a monarch, but the court countered that his power to govern was limited “by and according to the laws of the land and not otherwise”, and that as such, he could be held on trial.

     That trial eventually convicted Charles and sentenced him to death by beheading, which took place on January 29, 1649 atop a scaffold outside of the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall in the view of the public. Among his last words were: "I shall go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be."

Depiction of the execution of Charles I.

     Following the execution, the head was sewn back onto the body, which was placed into a lead coffin and buried in the Henry VIII vault at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.

     Charles’s legacy has been to show what happens when a monarch overplays his hand, and with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, most of his successors have careful to rule within the laws and conventions established over the ages.

     Another legacy of King Charles was his patronage of the arts, and he amassed an enormous art collection. His purchased and commissioned works were sold off by Parliament during the Interregnum of the 1650's, though a substantial number of them were recovered for the Royal Collection.

     In the United States, there are several places named in honor of Charles I: the states of North and South Carolina, as well as Cape Charles, Charles River Shire, Charles City County, and the Charles River (which he personally named) in Virginia.

Photo Credit: Σπάρτακος via Wikimedia Commons cc, Elliot Brown via Flickr cc